Yes, to affordable housing

Opinion: Editorials

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Something will be built at the corner of Oak Park Avenue and Van Buren. Gravel parking lots on key commercial strips seldom remain gravel parking lots.

There is an interesting proposal on the table. A respected nonprofit, The Community Builders, wants to build a four-story, 37-unit, mixed-use, affordable housing project. This is affordable as in working people making minimum wage, or somewhat above, having an appealing housing option in a community where they might work as a teacher's aide, a cook, a cashier at Starbucks. 

Not to our surprise, there is opposition from some immediate and nearby neighbors. Of course they deny they are NIMBYs. Has anyone ever admitted to being a NIMBY?

This isn't about affordable housing, they said at a neighborhood meeting last week. They point to the opposition by neighbors years back when Community Bank wanted to build a branch with a drive-thru on the site. That would have clogged their alley, they argued then. Now they want the minimum impact of high-end townhomes or condos.

Like every single set of opponents to every affordable housing project ever proposed, the neighbors swear this is all about parking, height, traffic and not the project's affordable focus. We're not buying it.

Oak Park needs affordable housing. And the success of the Grove Apartments (above Sugar Beet on Madison) after vociferous neighborhood scare tactics proves that such housing is a great addition to the mix the village offers. 

Let's move this strong project ahead.

Reader Comments

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Neal Buer  

Posted: August 1st, 2018 1:26 PM

Milt, you are correct. Let the developer build all the affordable housing they want, with proper parking, and without variances, and taxpayer subsidies. This village has the inmates running the asylum. SMH.

Milt Clark  

Posted: August 1st, 2018 12:08 PM

To be absolutely clear the issues are increased neighborhood density and impacts to the immediate neighborhood, and not opposition to affordable housing. With only 23 spaces, there will be inadequate parking for the 37 unit building causing overflow of cars onto the streets. The alley, being used for entrance to building parking will get clogged creating safety issues. The alley already has 68 parking spaces, and Sysco food delivery trucks must back down the ally from Van Buren often against the flow of cars trying to exit. By an unanimous vote, the Plan Commission rejected a drive in bank on the corner, in large part because the alley was also going to be used for the bank's entrance. Finally, height does matter. Four to five houses will have greatly diminished sunlight, lowering quality of life, and potentially property values. We are concerned that a 48 foot building, needing a height variance, will lead to taller buildings on Oak Park Avenue, creating even more density. This proposal should be withdrawn and replaced with a smaller project creating less density and having reduced impacts on our immediate neighborhood. It shouldn't be that difficult to come up with an acceptable alternative that the community would support.

April Winter  

Posted: July 30th, 2018 11:49 AM

I just don't get the bit about worrying about parking. If you are concerned about affordable housing and live in this area, why not just use public transportation?! It is so convenient, as well!! The Metra goes out to far-flung places as well! But just for any good liberal OPer it would stand to reason that public transit is kinder to the Earth. Certainly would help solve the parking issue!

Tom MacMillan  

Posted: July 29th, 2018 9:28 PM

I wonder how this affordable argument ever got started. We have a town. People live in it who can afford to live here. There are all sorts of options regarding housing price ranges surrounding us. Some are less expensive, some are more expensive. If Oak Park costs too much why would anyone expect to be given lower housing as some sort of right, they can simply live a mile to the east or the south. When we cut corners on buildings, in this case not enough parking, then it hurts everyone. So why is that ever a goal. We do not need more people wedged into this part of the town. The goal should be lowering taxes to lower rents and housing costs for people who are already here in housing that is already built.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: July 24th, 2018 10:22 AM

To the point made below by Tom MacMillan, why aren't you a strong advocate for making Oak Park more affordable for EVERYONE? It is so very duplicitous to advocate on the one hand for this affordable project , which will benefit a few residents, and on the other hand to advocate for things like an unnecessarily large swimming pool at OPRFHS which will DIMINISH AFFORDABILITY for us all.

Neal Buer  

Posted: July 24th, 2018 9:44 AM

I'd say I'm a NIMBY when you want to build 37 units with 23 parking spaces creating an obercrowded condition. I'd say the same if someone wanted a pig farm on that site. I'm for affordable housing, but that doesn't give the developer carte blanche to build whatever they want just because it's affordable.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2018 8:19 AM

If it is ok to take things out of housing to make it affordable, lets instead take out unnecessary government services that create property tax and rent increases, not parking spaces. There is a long list of things we are stuck paying for that are not needed. People have been complaining about lack of parking forever, for good reason.

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